The defence contractor has been selected to support the local development of Army’s next-generation combat vehicles.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) has subcontracted Thales Australia to manufacture critical weapons components for the Australian Army’s new Boxer 8x8 combat reconnaissance vehicles, developed under the Commonwealth government’s LAND 400 Phase 2 program.
Specifically, Thales is expected to leverage its Australian supplier base to deliver components for the Boxer’s MK 30-2 cannon, which will then be assembled at RDA’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Redbank, Queensland.
Thales has commenced production of the 30mm cannon components, leveraging the support of 16 current and new Australian SME suppliers, with approximately 50 per cent of the work to be completed by local SME.
According to Thales Australia, the overall Australian industry capability (AIC) ratio has surpassed 85 per cent.
The deal comes after Thales’ weapons components passed quality control checks by Rheinmetall in Germany.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price welcomed the manufacturing partnership, which she said would further strengthen Australia’s sovereign defence industrial capability.
“Australian industry will play a vital role in the delivery of the Boxer vehicles,” Minister Price noted.
“Rheinmetall will use suppliers across the country to design, build, assemble, test and support the Boxer vehicles for the Army.
“We are backing Aussie businesses and supporting local jobs.”
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Echoing Minister Price’s sentiments, Chris Jenkins, CEO of Thales Australia, added: “Increasing Australia’s industrial capability will build Australia’s self-reliance and the capability of the broader Australian advanced manufacturing sector, which is vital to delivering a capability advantage to the Australian Defence Force.”
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee noted the benefits for the local community, with the partnership expected to generate 10 new jobs and sustain approximately 130 existing jobs at the Lithgow site.
“In 1912, the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, which would become Thales Australia, began producing SMLE 303 rifles carried by Australian forces in WW1,” Minister Gee said.
“More than a century later, the tradition of the Australian Defence Force employing not only Australian-made but Lithgow-made weapons continues, with Thales Australia to deliver 30mm cannon components for the new Boxer 8x8 combat reconnaissance vehicles.”
“… The Lithgow Arms Factory is part of the fabric of the Lithgow region, and plays a key role in our national defence capability, ensuring our ADF personnel have access to world-class military weapons.”
As part of LAND 400 Phase 2, RDA has been tasked with delivering and sustaining a total of 211 Boxer CRVs, tipped to provide enhanced mobility, firepower and protection across a number of mission types, including regional stability missions and high threat operations.
[Related: Army lauds lethality of Boxer CRV]
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.